Download in the Dumps (AKA Killing Me Softly With Adobe)

In which our intrepid reporter is unable to download and reinstall Adobe software he owns and paid for because Adobe.

I REMOVED Adobe CS5 from my studio Mac after it took on water damage during tropical storm Irene. Just as I was going to replace the machine, the water damage seemed to go away. (It actually never did go away, and as I write this it’s pretty bad, but for a week it seemed okay so I didn’t order a replacement.) As I need Photoshop this morning to work on a website, and as I’m still a registered CS5 owner, I logged into to download a “Trial” version of Photoshop. For all the good it did me, I could have eaten my own head.

Clicking “Download Photoshop” put an “Install Adobe Download Assistant” app on my desktop instead of downloading Photoshop. To download Photoshop from the web, you can’t just download Photoshop from the web. You have to download an installer that installs a downloader. There’s no benefit to the user for jumping through this extra hoop, but I guess Adobe Corporate wanted to show off its AIR-based software.

To download trial versions of Creative Suite software, you need to install the Adobe Download Assistant. After installation, the Adobe Download Assistant will start your product download automatically,

the website says. This is a lie.

Once installed, the downloader asks me to sign in again. Which is only logical. After all, between the time I clicked “download Photoshop” as a signed-in user and now, I might have been knocked unconscious by Photoshop pirates. Without a redundant double sign-in, the pirates would win.

So I type in my login and password again—same as I just did on the website to download this meshugah downloader installer in the first place—and guess what? Adobe says my login and password don’t match.

The login and password I used to download the installer downloader are unacceptable to the downloader. If you’re following this gibberish, God bless. If not, Adobe is telling me that the login and password I just used to install the downloader are no good.

Like a pimp pretending to help a runaway teen, a link in the unhelpful downloader now asks, “Having trouble signing in?” There being nothing else to do, I click the link, which takes me to a “Reset your password” panel. Only I can’t reset my password in the “Reset your password” panel; I’ll only be able to reset my password on a custom web page, whose address I will only learn once I receive an email from Adobe sending me a custom link. Excitingly, that “Reset your password” page (the one that will actually allow me to reset my password) will be generated on the fly via Adobe’s famous and ultra-reliable ColdFusion software.

I’ve now lost 30 minutes of work time but Adobe is not done with me. Oh, no. This is where the fun begins.

I spend long minutes reflexively checking my email, like a junkie scanning the corner in search of his busted dealer. The custom link email finally arrives, but the link never works. (It’s the cream of the jest!) Here is a screenshot of Adobe’s Chinese Japanese website, powered by ColdFusion, which is unable to generate a “Reset your password” page, allowing me to reset my password and use the AIR-based downloader software to download the software I already own.

Mission: not accomplished. Total time wasted: 45 minutes (not counting the writing of this blog post, which I do in the faint hope that Adobe will improve its customer experience). I still have no working copy of Photoshop and it’s clear I won’t get one today. The installer disks are gone from my office because I’m moving to a new studio soon and have been packing important pieces like installation disks ahead of time. (After all, I had reasoned, Adobe lets you download software from its website, so why keep disks around?)

To be fair, Hurricane Irene was not Adobe’s fault, and lots of people suffered much worse than a water-damaged iMac. Nor is water damage to my Mac Adobe’s fault. My decision to remove CS5 from the Mac was based on fear that if the Mac died and I hadn’t removed CS5, I would not be able to install it on the replacement machine I intended to purchase, as Adobe licensing (and the software itself) requires you to uninstall from Machine A before installing on Machine B. Adobe CS5 costs more than the computer I intended to buy, so it seemed prudent to remove it from the damaged machine, but of course I regret that decision now, because Adobe’s website won’t let me update my member information, and its downloader won’t let me download.

So I’ll be working from home tonight, doing what I should have done today. Five little letters: ADOBE.

Breathless Update!

Apparently Adobe’s entire membership section, powered by ColdFusion, is now down. Trying to do anything inside the member section leads to a Chinese “Sorry” page. This might be why the “downloader” failed to authorize my credentials. How much simpler it would be if Adobe simply provided a link to download its software (like in the old days) instead of forcing registered users to jump through broken hoops.

64 thoughts on “Download in the Dumps (AKA Killing Me Softly With Adobe)

  1. A company who’s installation, download policy, anti-piracy measures, and international pricing problems have never improved; despite constant bitching from customers. When are Adobe going to learn to listen to customers instead of internal politics? When pirating a copy is *far* faster, easier, and less painful than installing the legitimate legal copy you actually paid for – then there’s a very big problem.

    I just can’t imagine why Adobe have such a piracy problem…

  2. Ten little letters: PIXELMATOR.
    Five (other) little letters: ACORN.

    Jeffrey: I had this exact same problem a couple of weeks ago. Identical. I ended up having to remote connect to my iMac in my downtown office and use IT to connect to Adobe’s site to download the software THAT WE’D ALREADY PAID FOR, and by the way, the exact same combo of account/password that did not work here at home did work from the office.

    Adobe has become an absolute laughingstock in my mind. I never thought it was possible, but i loathe their softwares and processes as much as I used to loathe Quark XPress.

    There is a lifespan to all apps, and most Adobe apps passed theirs years and years ago … they’re now complete garbage. Try one of the delightful little apps above. Good luck, dude.


  3. I feel your pain brother. If any good comes of this I think “Chinese Sorry Page” should become a new meme. Maybe it could be the new “Fail.”

  4. dear Matt Wilcox:
    “I just can’t imagine why Adobe have such a piracy problem…”

    they DON’T have any piracy problem. at all. the “problem” is in OUR minds, the end users, the small businesses, the individuals who rely on these bozos for our livelihoods. adobe knows full well that a huge percentage of us are using hacked kracked bootlegged versions of their apps, and (read carefully now) THEY COULDN’T CARE LESS.

    adobe cares ONLY about their huge megacorporate customers anymore. it’s painfully obvious. we’ve been left in the trashheap, while adobe sells hundred- and thousand-license sets to gigantic zillion dollar corporations. which is exactly what they want.

    screw adobe. i’m making every effort i can to explore alternatives. i, for one, cannot WAIT to be liberated from the B.S. that is ADOBE.


  5. I feel your pain, Mr. Zeldman. I work for high-ed and installing Adobe was no less troublesome. I had to scan in my university ID, filled out the form, sent in my ID and wait 3 to 5 days for the approval process.

  6. I recently had problems downloading a demo of Photoshop Elements. Finally figured out the problem, the popup blocker was blocking Adobe’s stupid popup that shows the progress of your download. No popup, no download. Why not just a simple download of an installer instead of all of this crap?

    Unfortunately Pixelmator and Acorn are not suitable substitutes for PhotoShop in my office for some staff.. Besides not supporting CMYK (pretty important in publishing) one of our web folks found Acorn 3 much more difficult to use to do a specific operation (that she does a lot) than PhotoShop. Fortunately Photoshop Elements 9 made her very, very happy.

    Sad to see how Adobe has become more difficult to deal with over the years. Which is a pitty since I’ve met nice and smart people who work there.

  7. Really? I feel your blame – but your blaming an entire product because the web site was down? So if you hit a PHP site and it’s down, the entire language must be crap, right?

  8. Btw – I should be clear. I work for Adobe. I’m a ColdFusion supporter. But heck, even I want direct downloads from I just hate to see you blaming the entire language when you hit one site with a problem with it. Is that really fair?

  9. That’s Adobe page from your screenshot was in Japanese, not Chinese. The Japanese part of the page was basically saying that the page was down for maintenance. It’s dumb that they bothered to say in English that the page is not available, but the reason why is in different language. Good luck dealing with Adobe.

  10. The trouble in dealing with a vertical-market monopoly. After all these years, there isn’t even a product that covers the basics well, unfortunately.

    Most software upgrades gives me the Christmas morning feeling: I download and install them as soon as I can. Not so for Adobe products. I only upgrade them when the old version no longer works in my new operating system. I’d probably still be on Photoshop 7. . . .

  11. There’s a chance that work is going on behind the scenes due to Adobe MAX being round the corner.

    Regardless, it’s a developer issue, not a platform issue. ColdFusion, just like simply does what it’s told.

    As for the requirement to sign in to download your software. It’s a pita alright, but it’s done this way so that Adobe can track downloads and ultimately farm them out to Partners who are resellers so that they can follow up to assist with potential licensing purchases.

    Not justifying it … just trying to add some clarity as to why it works this way.

  12. I had a similar problem about 6 months ago (we got robbed), 10 seconds after it tells me my password is invalid for my third try (incase my monkey paws can’t type properly) I found a torrent and downloaded that. I spent the bulk of my morning buying a new Mac, downloading and installing and I was up and running before noon. I’ve learned in the past that it’s simpler to get the bootleg when I’m pressed for time. It’s ridicules.

  13. I think this is a phenomenally good (and painful) example of how organizations are completely ignoring the UX of authentication related interactions.

    Organizations pay no attention to the burden they’re putting on users / customers. Especially in situations where there’s no real competition for their product.

    So, you spent 45 minutes on this directly, but the ripple effect is that you can’t get work done. Which means you can’t ship. Which means you can’t bill. Someone in your organization may be waiting for what you were going to work on. And there’s a danger that a client could become very unhappy about all that not producing, so you have reputation to deal with. Many costs to your productivity, the productivity of others, and now a cost to your trust in Adobe. I will bet that Adobe has no one putting a dollar figure on that formula.

  14. Sad to see how Adobe has become more difficult to deal with over the years. Which is a pitty since I’ve met nice and smart people who work there.

    Agree 1000% on that. People I know who work at Adobe are talented, passionate, very smart, and totally focused on providing great customer experience.

    Unfortunately, none of those people are in charge of overall customer experience, which has long been appalling.

  15. @Raymond Camden

    I didnt read this as a tirade against ColdFusion, but instead at the broken hoops Adobe make people jump through. While the references to “ultra-reliable” CF may be a dig, its minor in the over all problem.

    As you say, its not the languages fault – the problem is that Adobe seems to have built is identification mechanism piecemeal which is frankly bizarre.

    Downloading an installer, which you then have to install to download a product is mad. Having this installer ignore the credentials you have presented to download and install it makes even less sense.

    All I can assume is that this is the result of multiple small projects rather than an overall controlled approach to serving customers.

    Shame really.

  16. If feel really sorry for you. To go through this monsterous exercise shouldn’t happen. That’s one of the reasons I always:
    a: do a backup of the actual installer files on external HD/USB storage
    b: order a dvd version instead of the download version (I “collect” the boxes) ;-)

    Good luck!

  17. adobe as an entity is broken, and shows NO INTEREST in trying to help the victims of its own arrogance and stupidity. we, the end users, not only pay through the nose for their bloated garbage, but we have to deal with this sort of BS on a semi-regular basis.

    i don’t doubt that adobe employs many talented, intelligent and great people, but as a corporate whole, their days are over. too many people have had too many problems with their broken junk.

  18. The first thing that you should do is to ‘upgrade’ your licenses to an Adobe Volume Licensing (AVL) Transactional License Program (TLP) license. This does several things: it gives you access to electronic software downloads for your licenses, the licenses are cross-platform (e.g., with the home/work dual install your work could be PC and home by Mac), you’re eligible for the Upgrade Plan (a sort of subscription-based perpetual license where you receive updates as they become available for a specific period of time, but if you cancel you don’t loose access to the software), and it moves you out of your activation hell since volume licenses aren’t activated/limited in the same way.

    It used to be that TLP required a substantial commitment, but since the Adobe/Macromedia merger they dropped the large ‘points’ requirement to participate (with a larger ‘points’ purchase you can get a volume discount).

  19. I didnt read this as a tirade against ColdFusion, but instead at the broken hoops Adobe make people jump through.

    That was my intention, yes.

    the problem is that Adobe seems to have built is identification mechanism piecemeal which is frankly bizarre.

    A piecemeal assembly by small unrelated teams over time could explain the unconscionably chaotic and failure-prone customer experience. But if that is the case, surely someone at Adobe corporate would make it a priority to overhaul the customer experience. When customers who’ve been loyal for decades in some cases are seriously considering switching to low-priced competitors, surely that is something Adobe as a corporation would want to take seriously.

  20. “When customers who’ve been loyal for decades in some cases are seriously considering switching to low-priced competitors, surely that is something Adobe as a corporation would want to take seriously.”

    jeffrey: this has been going on for YEARS and YEARS now. this is not a new development/problem. adobe is dysfunctional and OBVIOUSLY does not care. at all. i see no efforts made at fixing their broken machineries. if anything, it’s getting worse as time passes. their only concern is the large corporate clients tossing tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars at them. individuals like you and me are dead to adobe.

    let’s hear it for the alternatives! developers: are you listening? we have money to spend on GOOD SOFTWARE. bring it on!!!

  21. So I guess it was yours the big, heartless scream I heard even here in Italy…
    burocracy and corporate dumb things, the worst things in the world. I can feel your pain man.

  22. I feel your pain. Adobe is getting more and more like Micro$oft.

    This is also why I keep a clone backup of my machine, and when I move from an old machine to a new one, Migration Assistant (I hope/assume you’re on a Mac) is my best friend. Software moves along with everything else, with no need to re-certify and re-activate and re-re-re-….

  23. FYI, you don’t really need to uninstall the software to allow your serial # on a new machine. You just have to “Deactivate” it, which is found on the Help menu. (At least on the PC version.)

    I agree Adobe’s support website is not very good, and the download process is not too much fun. However, I should report I had a pleasant experience with a similar situation last month.

    I got my laptop wet, not from a storm, but my own stupidity and it died. I couldn’t de-activate the software and it wouldn’t accept the serial number. I installed from disks and instead of emailing or calling, I tried the online chat. Within 2 minutes, someone was helping me and within another 3 minutes, they solved my problem. I was very pleasantly surprised at how smoothly everything went. But the rest of their support needs improvement for sure.

  24. Shame on you for not having a clone of your hard drive. You’re a professional. Time to spend the money on a backup system that would allow you to pull it all back in.

    On the other hand I’m a cold fusion hater too.

  25. The Adobe Volume Licensing suggestion is a good one, especially for a business. However you would have a field day writing about the web site used to manage those downloads and doing the conversion outside of upgrading might not be a painless process.

    The AVL site uses the same Adobe Downloader (you know, the one “Powered by Nosso”. And it inexplicably doesn’t work, especially if you’re queuing multiple downloads for different installers. You can do direct links from these pages however and that saved my bacon when I had to get installers for the entire creative team I manage.

    The AVL site a butt-ugly UX nightmare. Finding your serials and downloads takes many more head-scatching clicks than it should. They could fix a lot of it pretty easily if they just let a CSS savvy web designer get to the stylesheet.

    Thanks to years of floundering, my confidence in Adobe is pretty much shot. Sadly it’s not all bad — a lot of work goes into the software, but the bad experience is hurting the good more than Adobe would seem to care about.

  26. I would switch completely away from Adobe products if I could find a good alternative to Fireworks. As a web designer, I find it so much more useful than Photoshop for initial site layout and graphics building.

    Good call on Pixelmator. It works really well and I use it all the time now. Also, if you’re caught completely unawares on a strange machine with internet, try Pixlr, which runs in a browser and is amazing.

  27. ” Downloading an installer, which you then have to install to download a product is mad. Having this installer ignore the credentials you have presented to download and install it makes even less sense.”

    Which would break all basic security as the Air app does not run inside the browser security sandbox.The Air app asks for them because security dictates it must.

  28. Why are you using the trial software? You can re-download your software from the “my downloads” section of the site. See link below.

    I used to be able to do that. Can’t now. That was the first place I went after signing into Guess what, I have no downloads. Software I’ve purchased and registered is no longer stored at that URL, no longer available for download. At least that is my experience. Things may be different in your country, or with your login, or on your operating system, or depending on what time the hamsters got fed.

  29. Shame on you for not having a clone of your hard drive. You’re a professional.

    Shame on you for making assumptions.

    I do have a clone of my hard drive. I don’t have a clone of what my hard drive was like four weeks ago, when I still had Photoshop on it. A cloned backup drive is no good unless you constantly update it. I do that. Therefore my cloned backup drive doesn’t have software on it which I removed a month ago in response to Hurricane Irene, water damage to my computer, and Adobe’s EULA.

  30. I have to second the bit torrent method. It’s not grade school easy but can be navigated. I’ve had several paid versions of adobe products going back to Illustrator 2 but since CS, the adobe experience is opaque, arbitrary, expensive and maddeningly frustrating.

    It took me less than an hour to find, download, install and run CS5 Design Premium. Thanks Adobe!

  31. Download managers (hi there Adobe), update managers (hi there Apple) … whatever self-absorbed company manager really, they all suck and they are all just made for one single reason. To remind you time and time again you are using product X, you could be using product Y and company Z is the really, absolutely the bomb.

  32. Mr Zeldmans job to hate anything but html css and js. Don’t give him half a chance he will hate it. Oh wait and call it non standard.

  33. Arrrrr! Time to pay a visit to the Pirate Bay. Those of you that bag on piracy are either hypocrites or Mac users.

  34. Unfortunately Pixelmator and Acorn are not suitable substitutes for PhotoShop

    A good point, but people used to say the same thing about InDesign not being able to replace Quark. For three releases of ID, most publishing professionals scoffed at it and assumed it would never make a dent in the market. Times change. Quark is still out there, but it’s got competition now. If Adobe’s not careful they could end up on the other side of the equation after Pixelmator and Acorn (or something else) go through a few more release cycles.

  35. I’m sure you would have been able to get what you needed done with just the 30-day trial, but if you had managed to download it and attempted to use your CS5 suite password on just the Photoshop install, it would have failed. The individual pieces of software cannot be downloaded ad hoc. Instead, if you need to replace one single program, you have to download the suite’s installer.

    Back in the days of CS3, I downloaded a couple of trials, Photoshop and Illustrator, which installs the full versions of each program. Then when I purchased the full suite, I attempted to use my activation code on the trial versions. But that failed, because I downloaded individual trials, not the suite trial.

    Fine. I downloaded the suite installer, which helpfully told me that Illustrator and Photoshop were already installed, and it would install the suite software but not touch the previously installed versions. Great. 1.2GB and an hour later, I again attempted to activate Photoshop and Illustrator. But no, the programs told me… I was using an incorrect activation code.

    Fine. I deleted the two trials. But the suite installers still saw them there. Okay, fine. I deleted the Adobe Application Support directory. Hey, now the suite installer will install PS/Ill! And fail! After another 1.2 and hour of downloading. Sweet!

    I go to Adobe’s site to see what I’m supposed to do, and, of course, I’m supposed to run the trial installers to deinstall the trial software. Of course! How much more Macintosh is it that to have to run an installer to delete a program?

    All I had to do was redownload the trial installers, run them, have them download files that I was going to uninstall, uninstall the already deleted programs, re-run the suite installer, finally have the suite installer allow me to install programs that had been on my system for a month, and Bob was my uncle. Gee, I only paid several hundred dollars for that ease of install, too.

    And that was the last time I ever upgraded an Adobe program. Now when I get files from clients that I can’t open in CS3, I create a virtual machine to download a 30-day trial, save the files in CS3 formats, and never ever give money to Adobe again.

  36. Hi Jeffrey et al.,

    I hope you’re all doing well and that this post finds you likewise. My name is Bing and I’m part of the worldwide Customer Care escalations team here at Adobe, with a direct focus on the social web in relation to customer success.

    I want to thank each and every one of you for taking time to provide such invaluable feedback. Rest assured that concerns like yours are taken very seriously.

    That said, I encourage those who have unresolved customer and/or technical support issues to write me directly: binghan(at)adobe(dot)com. Please provide a concise and detailed recount of your ongoing issue, along with your Adobe ID, applicable customer case numbers, as well as your complete mailing address.

    In the meantime, I have faith that my colleague, Ray Camden (ColdFusion evangelist, in addition to being overall well-versed in HTML5, jQuery, Flex etc.), will help continue pushing for simpler downloads, internally.

    Finally, I’ll be looping in my colleagues from the Community Help & Learning team to ensure this thread affords us greater insight and opportunity to help improve content delivery (both internally and externally) and to better glean customer engagement 360 on this front.

    Thanks everyone for your time, patience and understanding.

    Bing Han
    Online Social Customer Success Lead
    [email protected]
    800-866-8006 ext. 66688

  37. hello, bing:

    nice of you to write. i’m sure you mean well, which is appreciated very much.

    however, you thank us all for our “patience and understanding” — neither of which i have anymore. i am absolutely OUT of patience and have NO understanding of why adobe has virtually abandoned the users who unwittingly helped it grow into the unthinking bloated carcass of a company it is today.

    speaking only for myself, you’ve lost at least one customer, forever. i wouldn’t voluntarily use your company’s software if it was handed to me on a silver platter. i am beyond FED UP.

    “thank you for your patience and understanding”

    chris long

  38. Hi Chris,

    Good to hear from you. Unfortunately, your view is not unique, in that it is shared consistently with many other frustrated customers, that’s why I encourage you to contact me directly. Taking this offline, I can get a better understanding of the hurdles you’ve personally endured and speak toward those specifically.

    I look forward to your contact, should you choose to do so.


  39. Hello all,

    I’d like to speak to the frustrations faced by those who have encountered problems when attempting to download a trial of Adobe’s software. While many of those responding on this blog are net savvy and activities such as downloading multiple-GB files is second nature, there are those who are not so lucky or skilled. You may be surprised to hear that there are still people out in the world downloading Adobe software using a dial-up connection. We have the Adobe Download Assistant (ADA) to help our customers who may face difficulties with the download, such as frequent disconnects.

    While it helps some, it seems this tool can actually hinder some who are more web adroit. It’s like putting on a pair of gloves, removing fine detail control. I find it very interesting that some of the solutions posted here (e.g. bit torrent) are at least as complicated and can be just as frustrating. Bit torrent requires you to download and install a client, ADA is our client. Torrenting our software is not easier for all customers, only those who are already using such techniques with other software.

    We’ve had many discussions here at Adobe about trying to find a solution that works for the greatest number of customers. So while the download process is frustrating for some, it is a savior to others. We are not trying to make the process difficult for anyone (a loose/loose situation) nor are we trying to show off technologies.

    If you have been downloading software from Adobe for a number of years, you have followed us through quite an evolution of this process. We definitely listen to suggestions that come our way, but you must remember that yours are not the only voices, and there are those who disagree with every word that has been posted here (not myself, but I have listened to these suggestions as well).

    So, it is true that you have to log into the Adobe web site to start a download of Adobe Software. It is also true that the download will occur within another application. Yes, you do have to log into this tool also. For most customers, this is all they encounter, a simple three step process. Unfortunately, Zeldman had a run of bad luck, which added a number of extremely pestering new steps.

    The fact is we had a pretty major web system fail yesterday. We did get it fixed, but it took a good chunk of the day. Not surprisingly, this failure affected account logins and the ability to download trials.

    Had it not been for things breaking down in the background, I’m sure that Zeldman would have had a much more pleasant download experience. Sure, he would probably still be annoyed with having to install one program in order to download another, but is it really that horrible?

    A special message for Jonathan,

    Actually, what you say about 30-day trials is incorrect. It is true that you would face such issues with CS3, that a serial number was specific to a product and you could not mix and match with a suite. But we listened to what people had to say and followed suggestions. With both CS4 and CS5, if you have a Master Collection serial number and download the Photoshop trial, your serial number WILL work. It works in reverse too. If you have a Photoshop serial number and download the Master Collection trial, then install the entire suite you can use your Photoshop serial to make Photoshop work (the rest of the suite will still be in trial mode). The licensing is now modular.

    If you have any questions, or need help with anything, I invite you to contact me directly: bnemecek [AT] Adobe [DOT] com.


    P.S. Hi Bing!

  40. There are major problems at Adobe.

    I stopped upgrading after CS3 because I realized that each upgrade required me to learn a whole new set of major bugs and be sure to step around them as I worked. I figured I already know these bugs, I don’t want to pay Adobe to treat me bad again with new, fresh bugs.

    I can remember being really, really excited to get Photoshop 5.5, a frickin’ point release. I can remember admiring the icons and artwork in Photoshop 7. Feels like a lifetime ago in another world.

  41. > I just hate to see you blaming the entire language when
    > you hit one site with a problem with it. Is that really fair?

    Yes. Totally fair criticism. Adobe used to be in the Major Leagues of software. If you guys ever want to get back to the Majors, you need to raise your standards by about 1000%.

    The only legitimate response from anyone inside Adobe over this is a sincere mea culpa, a round of mass firings, and the hiring of Zeldman as Software Experience Consultant. You bring him in once a month, let him try your latest attempt at improved installers, and then you sit quietly while he screams and yells at you about how much you suck. I know your software will never improve, but it will make us all feel better.

    You guys have seen Mac App Store, right? You know that the average Mac user only has a handful of old installers anymore? And using them seems like getting a tooth pulled because now we know there is a better way. You guys have to either be in Mac App Store, or you have to build your own better-than-Mac-App-Store installation process. Choose one. Anything else is a fail,

  42. I share your frustration with Adobe. I especially share your frustration with the Adobe downloader issue. Not to mention the innumerable updates. If I could find a half descent substitute for Fireworks I would be so gone from Adobe it wouldn’t be funny.

    I upgraded my OS finally from Win 2000 to 7. Little did I think that the OS change would break my Adobe products. Serves me right for using windows instead of Mac. But still, I am seriously considering downgrading to the 32 bit Windows and using my old very reliable Adobe products.

    So any software developers out there? Go make a Fireworks competitor and I am pretty sure from reading this blog, you are going to be rich. Just don’t mess with the software download button!

  43. hi bing:

    nice of you to offer, but you’re too late. if you’d shown up 3-5 years ago, i’d have engaged you in a conversation with what i believe is wrong with adobe. now: i don’t care. at all. you’ve lost me, forever, and it’s your own damned fault. (not you personally. i appreciate the outreach).

    try contacting some of these hundreds/thousands of people who feel like i do. maybe they’ll talk to you:

    for me, adobe is just a memory now. absolutely fantastic in the old days and truly rancid in the later days. you guys blew it, BIG-time, falling from what i considered to be NUMBER ONE to “CAN IT REALLY SUCK THIS HARD?”.

    good luck. you’ll need it.

  44. I read with interest, Brett and Bing’s responses. I’ve seen this kind of thing before, right before a company begins to fail. Yes, yes, well all know Adobe has a large constituency, but the day a competitive product comes out is the day the sun begins to set on Adobe. Heck, at this juncture, I’d take a half competitive product with a company that at least respects and values its customers. Clearly Adobe does neither.

    Consider this response..”…but is it really that horrible?’ refer to annoying and frustrating this advanced customer group. Clearly the author thinks his customers should basically ‘suck it up and get over it’. Really?

    And now consider what might have been said, what should have been said according to a few thousand visibly angered ‘looking for alternatives to Adobe products’ clients. How about this…’we’ve heard you, we’ll restore our old direct link method along side this ‘pos’ for our more able customers by next week’?

    See the difference? Probably not. Or you don’t care. Either way, no company deserves the loyalty of its customers with that kind of attitude.

    To paraphrase the author ‘how hard would that be?’. Instead, Adobe feels entitled to frustrate its clients. Mind you, these clients here, from what I can see, are advanced users. Leaders. Experts that folks go to for opinions. One would think these would be the most valued, most listened to, most responded to people in the Adobe verse.

    One would be wrong apparently.

  45. The quality of the experience seems to be an a two dimensional inverse function of the size and I.T-ness of the company. The bigger and more technically savvy they are* (*should be) the worse the experience.

    It’s quite incredible how bad Adobe and some others are sometimes. Doing a half-decent job makes me look like a genius.

    Good luck Jeffrey.

  46. Oh Adobe, I have now had an unuable Adobe Illustrator for several days, literatlly won’t start. Starts to open then crashes, deleted perferences, nothing. Submitted several crash reports. Then just used fireworks to open an .AI – quality suffered but hey. CS6 had better be an update that addresses these sort of problems and fixes the bloat, stability and speed.

  47. I’ve experienced the same set of problems in roughly the same order nth times during the CS5.5 rollout.

    Oddly enough it wasn’t that downloading a downloader to download something that bugged me, nor was signing in to be signed in, so that I could sign in. The thing that really bugged me was that when I visited Adobe’s website I couldn’t download the software I’ve downloaded before from the download section… where, you know, downloads should be.

    See. Now I feel all confused, just talking about it!

  48. @brett

    Thanks for the info. While I assumed my issue would be fixed eventually, it is nice to know that it was fixed so long ago. Of course, the negative experiences did prevent me from upgrading, so the fix wasn’t going to cross my radar.

    Unfortunately, I doubt I’ll upgrade until Adobe decides to use the App Store system, or something like that. There are only so much hoops I will go through to use software that I have purchased. Since that will probably never happen, it’ll just be more cost effective for me to keep my five-year old machines running CS3 until the eventual alternative comes along.

  49. @Jonathan,

    Again, Adobe has listened and obeyed. We have broken into the Mac App Store, believe it or not! Right now, you can only get Photoshop Elements 9 Editor, but stay tuned….


    I would love to tell you that right now I am rewriting the page code for all of the Adobe product trial pages and adding a direct link, but unfortunately that is out of my hands (and a bit beyond my skill, I’m a pixel and color guy, not web coder). In fact, I am very much on your side on this issue. I much prefer having a direct download link instead of ADA or at least have the option to bypass it. Why, we could even offer it as a torrent (it is a legal means of distribution, after all), of course this would only help those who already do torrents. I was merely trying to state facts.

    What I meant by “…but is it really that horrible?” is: “…would you really abandon all that Adobe has to offer just because of a trial download assistant?” I just downloaded and installed the trial of Photoshop Elements 10 onto both my Windows 7 and Mac computers in the last two days (in no way connected to this conversation) as it’s the fastest way I know to get the program. Indeed, it was about a half hour process, from clicking the Download Now button to clicking the Finish the button in the installer.

    The thing is that for most of our customers, this is an entirely smooth, painless process. The inconveniences and frustrations are relatively few and far between. They seem more common given the fact that everyone who encounters a problem reports it, but those who have a fantastic experience are completely silent.

    Also, the trial is the only means by which you are essentially forced to use this assistant. When you purchase the product as a download, you get a completely different download experience. This includes direct download links. For example: Use the direct download links instead of Akamai Download Manager.

    I admit that Zeldman has had a really bad time with us recently, and I would really like to help him get back on his feet. I still extend an invitation to fix whatever is broken (at least as far as downloading, installing, or working with Photoshop and family, I don’t the first thing about Acrobat and many of the other Adobe applications, especially the web apps).

    Send me and email: bnemecek [AT] adobe [DOT] com.

  50. As said before you can all just use the CS2 – CS5 genuine Adobe direct download links I provide on my blog. Got banned from the Adobe forums for even informing users about the direct download links. So there you go, proper help is not even appreciated over at Adobe.

  51. atom smasher said on 26 September 2011 at 1:48 pm:

    I would switch completely away from Adobe products if I could find a good alternative to Fireworks. As a web designer, I find it so much more useful than Photoshop for initial site layout and graphics building.

    Good call on Pixelmator. It works really well and I use it all the time now. Also, if you’re caught completely unawares on a strange machine with internet, try Pixlr, which runs in a browser and is amazing.

    I would have to agree about Fireworks. Still haven’t found a good replacement for web/screen/UI design… best vector+bitmap editor so far, less expensive than Ps, and much more powerful (for screen and web design, at least)…

    I hear good things about Pixelmator, too, but seems it does not work on Win7/WinXP…

  52. Adobe has good engineers and good designers, but lack of competitions lead them to the loss of focus and loss of customer happiness. Left and right paying customers are faced with examples of corporate greed.
    Photoshop installation/re-installation/demo-download has way fewer issues than Acrobat Pro. It’s all the result of attempts to exploit the monopolistic position they hold. PDF, flash, Photoshop etc. And BTW that is why Apple hate to be dependent of them t00. They just don’t care if they customers are happy, and they will loose customers because of that.

  53. Just yesterday I was doing work on a clients system getting the entire office infrastructure of a medium sized business back on track. After installing the OS, drivers and accounting software I went on to install the HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw Color MFP. This worked flawless with the provided driver that was easy and fast to find on HPs site. Everything worked great, receiving and sending fax, scanning documents as well as printing. Smooth job.

    But then in order to read and also edit the scanned documents as PDF files we gave Adobe Acrobat X Pro a try and this was a huge mistake. While HP provided a neat tool called HP ToolboxFX, residing in the icon bar bottom right of Windows, giving detailed info about the printer and printer status, Acrobat Pro X decided that this tool was either not needed or that HP should not be in control of the HP printer any more. The icon first vanished shortly during installation of Acrobat X Pro and then after installation was done the icon did pop up again, but this time with a thick cross right over it, basically completely crossing out the icon.

    Here it comes. At first I thought that this might be happening because Acrobat X Pro decided to make “Adobe PDF” in the “Devices and Printers” menu the default printer. (Also, here just look at how fucked up that is, I got a damn nice printer on the system installed and have it set as default printer only for Adobe to take over those rights and make “Adobe PDF” the default system printer!! How the heck is my client going to send a fax or scan documents with a fucking virtual printer Adobe, I ask you???) So I switched the HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw Color MFP back to being the default system printer in the “Devices and Printers” menu, but the cross over the HP ToolboxFX icon would not vanish, even after a restart.

    Hmm, OK, I thought before giving Adobe a call I would try with HP. I got through to them in no time and since this issues has never been heard in the HP printers support so far I got forwarded to a proper HP printer engineer. This guy was right on top of his game and gave me his email so that I could provide him with a screenshot of the crossed out HP ToolboxFX icon. And so I did. He called me back ASAP and let me know that so far to his knowledge this is a first timer and that people running WITHOUT having Acrobat Pro X installed did not suffer from this issue. He was able to reproduce the error by following what I did as I was informed later on. Since the HP printer and software ran fine until Acrobat X Pro was installed the HP engineers decided to take this issue to Adobe. I hope they do get a reply and will be able to sort the issue.

    Knowing about how bad most of Adobe’s products are and how prone Acrobat especially is to such erratic and messed up behaviour I did image the system before actually installing Acrobat as well as the printer. After a quick restore of the clean system image I first had to install Acrobat and only then the HP printer and software. This now avoided this issue with the crossed out icon and the HP ToolbaxFX icon shows nicely as well as it works nicely again, BUT THIS DOES NOT SOLVE the issue. Normally people install their hardware and drivers first before going on to install software, so I am sure sooner or later more people will be having these issues and since not all of these people are wise enough to image the system before actually installing Adobe software they will be quite unhappy to learn that Adobe once again has managed to mess up a perfectly running system with its software.

    So yeah, this little story just ads to Adobe’s image. The HP engineer and me had a good laugh last not least, people if you read this, always backup your OS with a system image so that you can revert back to a clean version of your system if Adobe decides to change default printers and mess with the printing software provided by other companies. I have kept the screenshot if any one is interested.

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